The Download: VR Headset Hacks & Planet-Cooling Contrails

Understanding the process: Aircraft emit heat, water vapor, and small particles, leading to the formation of thin cloud-like trails or “contrails” in the sky. When several aircraft fly through these areas, these contrails can transform into clouds that trap heat radiating from the planet’s surface similar to floating blankets. Why it’s important: Only a tiny segment of flights, ranging between 2% to 10%, are responsible for around 80% of the contrails. The growing optimism is that rerouting those flights could result in a significant reduction in this impact, offering an efficient, cost-effective, and rapid approach to mitigating climate change. For a comprehensive story, see the full article.

Subtle racial bias increases with human modification in large language models
The update: There’s no denying that popular language models like ChatGPT have been found assimilating prejudiced views due to the massive volume of internet content they’re trained on since their inception. To combat this, developers have embarked on modifying them to lower toxicity. However, new findings indicate these modifications only suppress explicit racial views, allowing subtle prejudices to intensify and remain concealed, an issue that escalates as these models continue to expand.
The methodology: Researchers tested five AI models by having them assess speakers who utilized African-American English (AAE). The speakers’ race was intentionally excluded from the instructions. The models often associated negative traits such as “dirty”, “lazy”, and “stupid” more with AAE speakers than Standard American English speakers, regardless of identical sentence meanings. Consult the complete article for more information.